"Builders are encouraged to bring new ideas by seeking diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust. Being valued, trusted, connected, and informed allows our teams to deliver the best results for our customers,” says Sandra Teh, Head of Employer Brand, APJC at Amazon Web Services.

Amazon Web Services snatched the Gold for Excellence in Employer Branding and Bronze for Excellence in Talent Acquisition at the HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore. In this interview, Sandra Teh shares their mission and process to hire people who are curious about learning and excited about reinventing the customer experience.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

Our strategy is simple: make it easier for employees to do meaningful work and be customer-obsessed. We are always looking for ways to remove barriers and fix problems for our builders. To this end, to build a workplace for Amazonians to invent on behalf of the customer is our HR mission. One of our biggest milestones has been hiring - we are always looking for people who can help us build and innovate for our customers. And, we continue to hire in the thousands.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

Organisations need leadership to invent and reinvent. The AWS culture prioritises speed and constant reinvention, which enables AWS to best deliver on behalf of customers. This comes from the top down. Business transformation is about leadership. For AWS - culture, focus on customers, reducing complexity and having a bias for action will mean business priorities for our customers and partners can be achieved.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

Reinvention means you need to raise the bar with every person you hire. This means we over index on hiring right rather than hiring fast. For example, that’s why we created the Amazon Bar Raiser programme. A Bar Raiser is an interviewer at Amazon who is brought into the hiring process to be an objective third party. By bringing in somebody who’s not associated with the team, the best long-term hiring decisions are made and we can ensure that the company is always delighting, surprising, and building for customers.

The role of the Bar Raiser is to be a steward of Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles (LPs). These LPs ensure AWS is hiring people who will innovate on behalf of customers.

An interesting mechanism we have in place is a daily poll that asks every Amazonian a workplace-related question. The data provides real-time insights and feedback to managers, which helps us better understand how our employees feel about our workplace culture.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your game plan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

Data-driven decisions underpin AWS recruiting, onboarding, and overall HR policy. We hire people who are curious about learning and excited about reinventing the customer experience. It is important we always maintain our unique peculiar culture.

We’ve developed our AWS learning portals and employee assistance programmes because of the pandemic, through to resources and training dedicated to promoting inclusion, diversity and equity in the workplace.

Amazon has been consistently recognised on LinkedIn’s Top Companies, currently ranks #2 in Fortune World’s Most Admired Companies, and was selected by Fast Company as one of the Best Workplaces for Innovators.

Q What are the biggest business drivers or game changers that have pushed you to constantly come up with new ideas and raise the bar for workplace culture?

At AWS, we are always looking for ways to do more meaningful work. We continue to remove the barriers for our builders. As an AWS employee, rarely a day will go by without hearing our LPs referenced for doing the right thing. These are what enable AWS to think big and raise the bar. Builders are encouraged to bring new ideas by seeking diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust.

Being valued, trusted, connected, and informed allows our teams to deliver the best results for our customers.

Photo / Provided

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section! 


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